Lines of frustrated Likud voters on Monday
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Labor candidates take stage on primary eve
Photo: Yaron Brener

National primaries disgrace

How do parties that can’t run their own primaries expect to run the country?

When it happened the first time, we could say it was an unexpected screw-up. Yet when it happened again within one week, it became a disgrace. If a week ago we asked why they didn’t think of trying out the computer system, this time around we asked why they didn’t learn from last week’s experience.


After all, in any normal country, the embarrassing Labor party primaries fiasco would be a warning sign in respect to computerized voting. Indeed, Likud did not face the exact same malfunction, yet nonetheless one should be able to learn some things from the failures of others.


For example, the time it takes to vote. A simple check would have made it clear to the organizers that it takes much longer than estimated; this would have enabled them to add more polling stations and easily avert the embarrassment we saw every time we turned on the television: Huge lines that are not moving anywhere, people who are standing for long hours after their workday, in the Jerusalem cold among other locations, just because someone thought (and how the hell could anyone think that?) that five ballot boxes would be enough for the entire city.


Even the Labor party, which is not a model for anything, had twice the number of ballot boxes nationwide for half the number of registered voters.


What’s going on here? How could it be that a country that gave rise to the brightest minds and that exports high-tech products to the entire world cannot make it through one day of computerized voting without facing catastrophe? How could it be that large, experienced parties that are supposed to be well prepared for a day like this fail? And how does a party that is unable to run a primaries day expect to run our country?


A Bibi-bug

Whatever the results, these elections will have the taste of a scandal. Those who are dissatisfied with the results will have enough good reasons to file petitions, blame the computer, and mostly blame the movement’s chairman, because what we saw Monday was not just a computer bug – it was a Bibi-bug.


If up until now Netanyahu’s campaign appeared to be smooth and elegant, and his road to the premiership seemed paved, Monday we woke up and realized that everything is still wide open. And perhaps Netanyahu can learn something from this: In recent weeks he was intimately involved in deals and endorsements. Yesterday we could already imagine him stressed and sweaty at a consultation session with his aides. This is not the kind of campaign his advisors were hoping for. This is not what will lift him to the Prime Minister’s Office.


A week ago, Tzipi Livni’s campaign manager, Dalia Itzik, said that the moment she heard about the extent of the malfunction in the Labor primaries, she called Kadima’s director and demanded that the Kadima primaries be shifted from a computerized system to a manual vote. The director tried to calm her down: Don’t worry, he said, it’s not the same company. The firm used by Kadima is the one used by Likud, not by the Labor party.


On Monday he was already singing a different tune.


פרסום ראשון: 12.09.08, 19:53
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